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Politics & Issues

Climate Activists Criticize Governor’s Veto of Climate Bill

Cape and Islands environmentalists and climate activists are decrying Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to veto a wide-ranging climate change bill. 

 

In a statement accompanying Thursday’s veto, Baker expressed concerns over how the bill’s aggressive goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions could impact new affordable housing and economic recovery post-coronavirus.

 

“Reluctantly,” he wrote in a letter to the Legislature,  “I cannot sign this legislation as currently written.” 

 

Baker said he supported many of the goals laid out in the bill, and with more time he said he would have returned the bill to lawmakers with proposed amendments. However, he said, he could only sign or veto the Next Generation Roadmap climate bill (S.2995) because lawmakers sent it to him just one day before the legislative session ended.

 

Local environmentalists including Susan Starkey, co-chair of the Faith Climate Action Network, called the governor’s veto “disappointing.”  

 

“We really are in climate emergency so we need the full action that was pushed by the Senate and the House,” she said. “I do believe that he will ultimately move us in the right direction. It’s just not quick enough and it’s just not strong enough.”

 

Despite Baker’s veto, lawmakers have pledged to re-file the climate bill immediately, saying they will take action to ensure that it becomes law in the new legislative session. 

 

Keith Lewison, executive committee member of the Sierra Club on Cape Cod, said he wasn’t surprised after the bill lingered on Baker’s desk for over a week. He called on the governor to consider how delaying a bill like this will affect frontline communities across the Cape, coast, and islands. 

“The next big storm, the next big winter storm, the next big hurricane, that’s the kind of thing we’re all worried about,” Lewison said.  “We need to take bold action and this bill was a chance to try to move in that direction.” 

 

The bill would have represented the state’s first big update to the landmark 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act and would have written into law the ambitious goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 and to net-zero by 2050. It also would have boosted the amount of energy coming from renewable sources so that by the end of this decade, at least 40 percent of the state’s electric power would come from renewables. It also would have allowed towns to mandate that all new buildings be carbon neutral, and called for utilities to purchase thousands more megawatts of offshore wind.

 

Now, environmentalists have turned their hopes to the next session. 

 

“We, the human race, and all other living creatures,” said Falmouth climate activist Peter Waasdorp, “don’t have time for setbacks like this.”